FLAMING TESLA: 6 THOUSAND gallons of water used to put out spontaneous car fire

A gasoline car fire takes up to 1,000 gallons of water to extinguish.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
On Sunday afternoon, a Tesla Model S burst into flames on Highway 50 near Sacramento, California. The blaze was unrelenting, requiring nearly 6,000 gallons of water to be extinguished.

According to the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, the Tesla was traveling at "freeway speeds" eastbound on Highway 50 outside Ranchos Cordova when the battery compartment "spontaneously caught fire."

When crews arrived on the scene, the driver informed them that he had experienced "nothing unusual" with his vehicle prior to the incident.

Two fire engines, a water tender, and a ladder truck were utilized to tackle the blaze, as well as jacks to cool the underside and what remained of the battery.

As Vox reports, even the smallest fire in electric vehicle batteries can easily turn into a raging inferno thanks to a phenomenon known as a "thermal runway." When this happens, the heat from one burning battery cell ignites another, and before long the entire panel is engulfed. The stored energy of the batteries also means fires can get extremely hot, with some reaching temperatures of 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

"A burning or heated battery releases toxic vapors," a warning shared by the SMFD reads. "These vapors include sulfuric acid, oxides of carbon, nickel, lithium, copper, and cobalt."

In the Model S manual, Tesla explains what to do in case of a fire.

"If the battery catches fire, is exposed to high heat, or is generating heat or gases," the company says, "use large amounts of water to cool the battery." They suggest that between 3,000 and 8,000 gallons of water are required to get the job done.

"Battery fires can take up to 24 hours to fully cool," the manual explains, adding that, "There must be no fire, smoke, audible popping/hissing, or heating present in the high voltage battery for at least 45 minutes before the vehicle can be released to second responders (such as law enforcement, vehicle transporters, etc.)." It goes on to note that "reignition" is always a possibility.

Shortly after a fiery Austin car crash involving a Tesla in 2021, AFD Division Chief Thayer Smith said "There are some other procedures. Normally a car fire you can put out with 500 to 1,000 gallons of water, but Tesla’s may take up to 30,000-40,000 gallons of water, maybe even more, to extinguish the battery pack once it starts burning and that was the case here," according to The Independent.


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